I am, therefore I think

Financial Independence, Retire Early. In Goddamn Singapore?!

Also known as FIRE.

So, what have I been up to? Learning to invest, how to be financially independent. It can be done, and many people have done it. So, why do it? Because life is too short doing the things you don't like just so that you can do the things you like! I do enjoy my job, but there are always things that you don't want to do and I doubt it's so easy to find a perfectly matching job.

Learning about accounting and businesses made me think more about my revenue and income. Earn more money (e.g. maybe it's time to jump my job) or decrease expenses. I have been saving more aggressively. Wish that I didn't have to give my parents allowance (please don't judge me for that), but I guess I can view it as some kind of rent. I have always been frugal, but more of the cheapskate kind. Now, I tend to buy quality stuff that are made to last. For example, goddamn Japanese batteries instead of Chinese batteries. The difference is just ridiculous. I also try to buy in bulk. For example, like 10 socks at once. Or 10 underwear. For this I can buy Chinese stuff since their bamboo stuff are actually quite good. I even bought probably 20 years (!!!) worth of pencil leads. That was probably a mistake.

So, I was thinking that asset light companies are doing pretty well these days and I ought to emulate them. That means no heavy assets like property and cars. Especially cars, which are depreciating and just put more liabilities on your balance sheet. The idea of owning your property has perpetuated through our society but if you think about it, renting might be a better deal. Especially when the property value to income ratio is ridiculous here. Or even live somewhere else where the demand for property isn't so ridiculous.

So what's next? Well, I suppose I will just keep doing what I'm doing and see how it turns out. Money is just a means to an end. What do you want to see at the end?

Learning how to learn / Communication

Learning how to learn, a MOOC by Coursera. I wish I went through such a course earlier. At least I used some of those techniques subconsciously.

One of the optional interviews gave me a deep impression. The one with the writer, who emphasizes on using objects instead of ideas in writing. He also talked about using short sentences and using more active verbs. Being clear instead of being impressive. Because being clear is impressive. Very good stuff.

After working for a while, I now know how important communication is. I knew it was important, but it wasn't important enough for me to focus too much on it. I will put more effort into it. First, I will upgrade the tools needed -- writing and speaking clearly. Second, I will practise on dealing with people. I do wish I could work in a silo, but c'est la vie.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

IBS-like symptoms

So I've been having IBS-like symptoms for a while now but recently it got worse. Gas, bloating, nausea, fatigue. It was hard to figure out why. I only know it would get much worse when I drink milk. But I usually avoid lactose. Recently I figured out a possible cause. Fructose malabsorption. I've been eating a lot of fruits daily, at night before I go to sleep. Then I wake up sometimes feeling bloated and tired. Think I'll avoid/reduce fructose from now on and see if it gets any better. Hopefully it does, and I'll be rid of this chronic condition.

Serangoon North/AMK to Macpherson (Cycling)

Went to friend's friend house to watch League of Legends finals today. Planned a route avoiding major roads and it turned out MUCH better than expected.


Went through the private housing, so there were few cars. There were only 4 major traffic junctions to cross and so it was a breeze. Some roads were quite narrow though. But overall a very awesome ride. So happy to learn of this route. Next time if I ever work in Macpherson area I would totally make good use of this route. *smile*

We're doing it the opposite way

What does being a first world country mean? Why must we be a first world country? We work so hard, just to consume more things, that we don't need. So many malls sprout everywhere in the country, to provide places where we can consume and consume.

Consumerism. There's no end to it. Consuming -> happy. But that is the wrong way to go about happiness!


I think it is great to aim for self-sufficiency in your life. I think there are 3 skills that are very easy to learn.

1. The back-stitch
This is the strongest stitch you can do by hand and it works on almost everything. It is also very easy to do. I have mended buttons and shirts (the place near the collar tends to wear off easily). I have even mended my umbrella (the velcro tape part to keep the umbrella closed). I don't think I'll have to buy new stuff that often anymore.

2. Cooking
Well, just cooking edible stuff is very easy. There are also very simple dishes that are delicious and hard to screw up. E.g. soup, fried rice, eggs, sandwiches.

3. Hair cut
You have to be prepared to screw up a few times before you get it right, but after you get it right, it is very liberating. You can cut your hair anytime, into any style you like. A good pair of hair scissors isn't expensive and will last you a while (4 years on mine already).

Praise or punishment / Regression to the mean

The psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel prize in economics, pointed out that regression to the mean might explain why rebukes can seem to improve performance, while praise seems to backfire.

I had the most satisfying Eureka experience of my career while attempting to teach flight instructors that praise is more effective than punishment for promoting skill-learning. When I had finished my enthusiastic speech, one of the most seasoned instructors in the audience raised his hand and made his own short speech, which began by conceding that positive reinforcement might be good for the birds, but went on to deny that it was optimal for flight cadets. He said, “On many occasions I have praised flight cadets for clean execution of some aerobatic maneuver, and in general when they try it again, they do worse. On the other hand, I have often screamed at cadets for bad execution, and in general they do better the next time. So please don’t tell us that reinforcement works and punishment does not, because the opposite is the case.” This was a joyous moment, in which I understood an important truth about the world: because we tend to reward others when they do well and punish them when they do badly, and because there is regression to the mean, it is part of the human condition that we are statistically punished for rewarding others and rewarded for punishing them. I immediately arranged a demonstration in which each participant tossed two coins at a target behind his back, without any feedback. We measured the distances from the target and could see that those who had done best the first time had mostly deteriorated on their second try, and vice versa. But I knew that this demonstration would not undo the effects of lifelong exposure to a perverse contingency.

This is why I love statistics. It applies to so many things in real life. Regression to the mean is so pervasive in our daily lives.